Hawthorn will field an unchanged line-up for the first time this season in Thursday night’s AFL clash with Port Adelaide.
The Hawks have opted to stick with the side after their morale-boosting victory last week over Sydney at the SCG, while the eighth-placed Power will also go in unchanged from last round’s two-point loss to Geelong.
A cagey Alastair Clarkson had earlier declined to reveal whether 14th-placed Hawthorn would swing changes for the Adelaide Oval clash.
Young key forward Tim O’Brien had been considered a chance to play after recovering from hip soreness, but will miss another week, with the Hawks backing in last week’s debutants James Cousins and Dallas Willismore.
“We’ll settle our side tonight. We’re not going to reveal anything now,” Clarkson said on Wednesday morning at Melbourne Airport.
“We face another confronting challenge again tomorrow night against Port Adelaide, who on their home patch are particularly hard to beat – that’s why we’re so cagey around our side and all that sort of stuff.
“We’ve had a very, very short break – two interstate travels (and) a six-day break.
“We need to use every minute that we’ve got to actually make sure that the side that we pick is the right one to play against Port Adelaide tomorrow night, and gives us the best chance of victory.”
Former Richmond big man Ty Vickery has been retained and is likely to offer assistance to Ben McEvoy against Port’s Paddy Ryder, who Clarkson labels the season’s most-influential ruckman.
Clarkson said the six-point victory over the Swans, capped off by skipper Jarryd Roughead’s match-winning goal, had lifted spirits after a tough start to the year.
“We lost our first four games of the season – that’s a challenge that we haven’t had to confront very often in the last 10 years, and that’s not easy to confront,” Clarkson said.
“It’s given opportunities to some of our younger players, (with) some of the injuries that we’ve got at the present time, and that’s what was really pleasing about last week’s victory against a really respected opponent in Sydney on their home track.
“When you have those sort of victories, it does a lot for the morale around the footy club and says you’re heading in the right direction with your next crop of players.”
Power coach Ken Hinkley said the decision to line up unchanged against the Hawks rewarded his players’ consistency.
“We’ve played strong footy in every game we’ve been in, we’ve had a couple of down quarters but, other than that, we’ve been pretty honest,” he told FIVEaa radio in Adelaide.
“You back the boys in to keep playing the footy they have been playing.”